By spring 2018, SICE had become one of the largest schools on the IU Bloomington campus, and the opening of Luddy Hall was the highlight of the newly redesigned Woodlawn Ave. corridor. The 124,000-square-foot, open-concept building brought the departments of computer science, information and library science, and intelligent systems engineering under one roof for the first time in school history, and it created an innovative space for collaboration. A week-long celebration of the opening of the building drew SICE alumni back to Bloomington, and the unveiling of Amatria, a “sentient” work of art from Canadian artist Philip Beesley on the fourth floor of Luddy Hall, gave SICE an iconic presence on campus.
The continuing expansion of students at SICE led to the annual Student Recognition Celebration being held in the IU Auditorium in May 2019, where Acharya conferred bachelor’s degrees in computer science and informatics, as well as master’s degrees in computer science, informatics, data science, human-computer interaction, information science, library science, and secure computing. For the first time in school history, master’s degrees were awarded in intelligent systems engineering. Ph.D.s in computer science, informatics, and information science also were awarded.
SICE had undergone a lot of changes over the years, but there were more to come. In September 2019, the Informatics East and West Buildings were renamed Myles Brand Hall, commemorating the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the school as well as the 10th anniversary of Brand’s passing.
Less than one month later, McRobbie announced the second-largest private gift in IU history: a transformative $60 million donation from Fred Luddy to establish a multidisciplinary initiative that would fund the construction of the Luddy Center for Artificial Intelligence; create endowed chairs, professorships, and fellowships; and fund graduate and undergraduate scholarships. The focus of the gift was on artificial intelligence, especially AI as it relates to digital health.
In honor of Luddy’s generosity, the name of the school was changed once again to the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering.
“I was involved in establishing the school in 1999, and I have been delighted to see it grow, expand in its disciplines, and improve in quality over the last two decades,” McRobbie said. “It is fitting that it will now be named after its greatest benefactor, who has given so much support to the school over many years and whose record of achievement on information technology brings such distinction to IU.”
Ground was broken on the Luddy Center for Artificial Intelligence in February 2020, which will be part of the planned Mind, Brain, and Machine Quadrangle that includes the Psychological and Brain Sciences Building, the Multidisciplinary Science Building II, the cognitive science program at the nearby Geology Building, the Luddy School’s Myles Brand Hall, and Luddy Hall. The $22.8 million project is expected to be completed in August 2021.
After nearly four years on the job, Acharya stepped down as dean of the Luddy School in March 2020 to become IU’s associate vice president for research and AI innovation, and the school went back to its roots when Dennis Groth, the vice provost for undergraduate education and one of the early professors hired by Dunn at the school, was named interim dean.
“I’m very excited and honored to be taking on the role of interim dean for the Luddy School,” Groth said. “Our school has accomplished so much in its 20-year history, and with the construction of the state-of-the-art Luddy Center for Artificial Intelligence beginning this spring, we’re poised to continue our leadership role in technology and innovation.”
Just days after the announcement, Groth and the entire IU community were forced to adapt to the coronavirus outbreak that continues to impact the entire world. The Luddy School’s researchers sprang into action to help in the battle, using all the tools at their disposal—from computer modeling and AI to makerspaces and labs to supercomputing, data visualization, and more—to fight the pandemic. For the first time, the Luddy School moved all its classes to a virtual environment, and the annual graduation celebration was held online as well.
The first class of undergraduates in intelligent systems engineering were part of the 1,100-plus graduates, and Groth told the new alumni that the nature of their education has put them in a position to make a difference.
“Technology is about rapid change and learning to innovate to overcome obstacles,” Groth said. “These are the skills you’ve been given during your time here, and you have found yourself uniquely prepared to handle our current challenges. Whether you’re graduating with a degree in informatics, computer science, data science, information science, or library science, whether you’re earning your master’s or Ph.D., or are part of the first-ever intelligent systems engineering graduating class in IU’s 200-year history, you are leaving with the tools needed to adapt to any situation.”
“I tell my students that when I was an undergraduate, I never would have imagined doing what I’m doing now because it didn’t exist,” Connelly says.
From those early days in a turret to an alumni base that is more than 22,000 strong, the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering has shown the ability to focus on what will be instead of what is currently possible. The school’s slogan—“We See Tomorrow”—is on the walls of Luddy Hall, and it has long been the guiding principle. As the next-generation technology such as AI, machine learning, and virtual and augmented reality emerge, Luddy researchers and the students they teach will be at the forefront of innovation, creating the vision that will change the world.
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